After 60 minutes of scoreless play against No. 12 St. John’s (4-1-0), South Carolina (2-3-0) ultimately fell to the Red Storm at Belson Stadium on Friday night. Sophomore forward Sean Sepe recorded the game-winning tally for St. John’s.
“We’re very disappointed tonight. Our team played very well, but we were unable to get the result,” South Carolina head coach Mark Berson said of the tight match. “Overall, this team continues to grow and improve. We did some things very well tonight, but we were not able to capitalize on a number of chances we created in the game. We need to get ready for another tough opponent on the road in Rutgers on Sunday. I know that the way our guys responded tonight, we’ll be ready for the challenge on Sunday.”
St. John’s held a 7-2 advantage in shots at the half, but South Carolina outshot the Red Storm after creating numerous quality opportunities in the second half. The Gamecocks put six of their 12 shots on goal, with the Red Storm managing to put four of their 11 shots on frame. Junior forward Asa Kryst recorded three shots, two on goal. Sophomore midfielder Ryan Arambula, freshman midfielder Kurtis Turner, senior forward Hunter Wyer and sophomore midfielder Jeffrey Torda all tallied two shots apiece.
A pair of Red Storm sophomore midfielders in Danny Bedoya and Sean Sepe had a team-high two shots in the match. Sepe scored the lone goal of the matchup in the 60th minute.
The Gamecocks were without junior keeper Robert Beebe due to injury and junior Braeden Troyer who was serving a suspension for a red card against Coastal Carolina. Freshman Marco Velez earned the first starting nod of his career between the posts and Wyer took the other vacant spot in the starting lineup.
Velez was solid in his first solo outing in goal, collecting three saves. St. John’s senior netminder Rafael Diaz earned the shutout win with six saves.
Early on, St. John’s controlled possession, but it took over 11 minutes for either team to record a shot. The Red Storm’s sophomore forward Josh Godec pushed a header wide of the post for the first attempt of the night.
After a foul in the 18th minute, senior forward Jimmy Mulligan touched a Red Storm restart over to junior midfielder Daniel Herrera who put a ball on goal. Velez collected his first save of the night on the attempt.
Kryst recorded the first shot of the match for the Gamecocks in the 19th minute. With a one-on-one opportunity, the forward tried to push the ball to the far post, but Diaz was there to collect the save.
The St. John’s pressure nearly made a mark on the board again in the 27th minute. Sophomore Gabriel Camara was on the receiving end of a corner kick. The defender was able to push a header toward goal, but the ball hit the crossbar. Gamecock junior defender Mahamoudou Kaba was there to clear, stopping the threat.
The Gamecocks again had a one-on-one opportunity with Wyer heading for goal. Wyer drew the Red Storm keeper out of goal, but could not get an angle and was unable to get a solid shot past Diaz.
The teams entered the break scoreless.
South Carolina came out of the half firing, recording two shots in the first 90 seconds after the break. The pair of quality shots came from Kryst and Torda with Diaz recording saves on both shots.
In the 49th minute, Torda quickly notched his second shot of the night thanks to some miscommunication between two St. John’s players. Torda intercepted a pass and fired a shot towards goal, but Diaz was waiting to save his clean sheet.
On a deep throw-in from Wyer in the corner, Diaz punched a ball out of goal, but Kaba was able to get a ball to the back of the box with a bicycle kick. Turner managed to create a shot, but the attempt sailed wide.
St. John’s got on the board in the 60th minute on the Sepe goal. Bedoya sent a dangerous ball in to the six-yard box which senior midfielder Jamie Thomas sent across the box on a header. With Velez off balance, Sepe was able to tap the ball in the net for the 1-0 advantage.
The Gamecocks did not shy away, just three minutes later, Wyer was on the other end of a set piece started by Arambula. Wyer launched a header, but pushed it just inches over the crossbar.
Trying to add an insurance goal Bedoya fired a hard shot towards goal. Velez leapt into the air and managed to get a hand on it to send it over the goal.
Furiously looking for the equalizer, South Carolina recorded five shots in the final eight minutes of the match. None of the attempts found the back of the net and St. John’s escaped with the 1-0 victory.
Next up for South Carolina is a short trip over Piscataway, N.J., to face Rutgers. The Gamecocks and Scarlet Knights are set for a noon match on Sunday, Sept. 15. South Carolina returns to Stone Stadium for the annual Gamecock Classic on Friday, Sept. 20.
Season tickets for men's soccer, which includes admission to all home games, are currently on sale in the Gamecock Ticket Office. Fans can purchase tickets online at GamecocksOnline.com, or by calling 1-800-4SC-FANS. Cost for season tickets for men's soccer is $25 for adults and $10 for youth (17 and under).